Bruins Put Baseball in Postseason Jeopardy

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Josh Canales left a dent on the Cal baseball team's battle-tested armor yesterday afternoon.

A big, unrepairable dent.

With two outs and two runners on base in the bottom of the ninth inning, the UCLA junior drove in the game-winning run off Bears pitcher Trevor Hutchinson to lift the Bruins to an 8-7 win in the weekend finale at Jackie Robinson Stadium in Los Angeles.

UCLA also won Saturday's matchup, 18-7, but fell to Cal Friday night, 13-7.

"(UCLA) just came out and worked us pretty hard," Bears pitching coach Dan Hubbs said. "Anytime you lose, you're disappointed."

Canales' hit was as heartbreaking for the Bears as it was exciting for the Bruins.

By losing the series to UCLA, the Bears (25-27, 11-13 in the Pac-10) now have a fading chance of being invited to the postseason.

If Cal wins its final game of the season, tomorrow, against Fresno State, the Bears will stand one game under .500, a position they did not want to be in two weeks ago when the team had won six out of their last eight games.

The only credit the NCAA committee might give Cal toward selection would be its difficult schedule, which included top-25 teams such as Stanford, Texas, Loyola Marymount and Arizona State.

The Bears opened with a solid offensive effort yesterday, going up 6-1 through four innings, highlighted by junior Mike Tonis' two-run single in the third.

But the Bruins (30-22, 13-5) quickly answered with the long ball. Sophomore Bill Scott unloaded a two-run homer off starting pitcher Brad Steele in the fifth inning to cut the deficit to 6-3.

UCLA added three runs in the seventh to tie the game, before the Bruins finally overtook the lead when Cal reliever David Cash allowed second baseman Chase Utley an RBI single in the bottom of the eighth.

The Bears managed to knot the score, 7-7, when junior Clint Hoover slapped a triple to drive in junior Xavier Nady in the top of the ninth inning, but Canales' single in the bottom half of the inning quickly nullified Hoover's clutch effort.

UCLA captured Saturday's game with a barrage of home runs - six to be exact. Junior first baseman Garret Atkins and catcher Forrest Johnson each connected for two homers to demoralize the Bears pitching crew.

In the game, the Bruins racked up 18 hits while Cal put up nine.

A notable highlight for the Bears was Nady, who collected three RBIs to give him 190 in his Cal career, breaking Lance Blankenship's career record of 189 set from 1983-1986.

In Friday's contest, junior Jason Williams was the main producer in the Bears' 13-7 win. Williams recorded his first career grand slam in the eighth inning after a two-run homer in the sixth. After all the smoke cleared off his bat, the shortstop ended the day 3-for-5 with two home runs, two runs scored and a career-high seven RBIs.

After Cal faces the Bulldogs at Evans Diamond at 2 p.m. in the regular season finale tomorrow, the only matter left for the Bears to ponder is an invitation to the NCAA Regionals.

"We played a tough schedule," Hubbs said. "We should be deserving enough to (make it)."


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